And no, we’re not talking about the one about Brexit this time. That said, The Red Diamond, the official continuation of Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’ original Kingsman: The Secret Service, is a teeny little bit about Brexit, too, because it’s hard to be British in 2017 without mentioning the damn thing.
Image: Image Comics. Art and lettering by Simon Fraser, Gary Caldwell and Peter Doherty
Written by Rob Williams, and with art by Simon Fraser, Gary Caldwell and Peter Doherty, The Red Diamond is set shortly after the events of the original comic, with Eggsy, now fully into his work as a Kingsman, struggling to balance his working class South London origins with his slick new life as a fancy superspy.
Social class disparities and the status of your upbringing are the bread and butter of quintessentially British stories. Eggsy’s Peckham roots were a major part of the original comic too, after all. But even knowing that — and being a Brit so used to reading comics set in either fantasy and sci-fi worlds, or in contemporary America — as I read the first issue of The Red Diamond today, I was bowled over just how completely and thoroughly British the new Kingsman is.
The class-related limbo Eggsy finds himself in — still too rough around the edges for his fellow Kingsmen, now too posh for his former friends and his family — drives the thematic heart of the new series, alongside a slow-burning plot about a mysterious new virus about to be unleashed by a secretive villain. But Red Diamond’s most defining feature is its thoroughly British sense of place.
As I mentioned, Brexit gets a nod. In the opening pages of the issue, Eggsy is sent on a mission to rescue the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip (that’s Queen Elizabeth’s husband, for those not up on their arcane monarchical structures), from Greek terrorists. The bad guys want the country’s vast debt to the EU cleared in exchange for the Prince’s safety, and they’re rather envious at the UK’s upcoming departure from the EU:
There is the liberal use of the word “wanker”, which is a very delightful curse we love to use over here:
(Sidenote: Yes, Eggsy actually punches Prince Philip at one point after the daring rescue. And yes, once again, it’s because of a class thing.)
Pubs are visited, and both lagers and crisps are ordered, just to make it even more British:
Even The Great British Bake Off — televisual icon of all things good and British — gets a mention, alongside another heaping dose of class warfare mentions. I told you we loved this stuff!
Translator’s note: “Poncey” is a very British slang term for something snooty and pretentious. Waitrose, meanwhile, is a high-end supermarket chain that’s sort of like Woolworths, but a bit posher.
Oddly, no tea has been sipped yet. But as well as setting up an intriguing premise, The Red Diamond mostly stands out as an overwhelmingly British adventure so far. Anglophiles (and my fellow countrymen), this is most definitely a comic for you.